Politically minded guitarist Tom Morello (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, PROPHETS OF RAGE, AUDIOSLAVE) was interviewed by Full Metal Jackie on the January 13 edition of her “Whiplash” program on Los Angeles’s 95.5 KLOS radio station. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether PROPHETS OF RAGE was inspired by the results of America’s 2018 midterm elections:
Tom: “I don’t know that our recording schedule is on the electoral cycle. [Laughs] The issues that PROPHETS OF RAGE deals with pre-dated, in some ways, the Trump presidency, and will post-date it as well. The overall arc of the universe and fighting for justice ebbs and flows, but we’re in the midst of making a PROPHETS record, which is very exciting… [We’re] probably about halfway done right now, so there will definitely be new PROPHETS music in 2019.”
On his new solo record, “The Atlas Underground”:
Tom: “I think in some ways, it speaks more broadly to underlying human issues. The thematic thread that runs through the ‘Atlas Underground’ record is social justice ghost stories, where basically, we’re telling — with this ensemble cast that I made the record with — stories of the heroes and martyrs of the past to inform the struggles of the present, and hopefully shine some sort of bonfire to light a way toward a more just and humane future. I know it’s ambitious for rock ‘n’ roll, but that’s what I’ve been dealing with for my entire career.”
On whether he feels his music has made an impact:
Tom: “I can’t go to the grocery store without running into someone who has been in some way influenced by — whether it’s RAGE, AUDIOSLAVE, THE NIGHTWATCHMAN, Axis Of Justice — that has led them to maybe become a public defender, or a brick-throwing anarchist, or someone who’s just thought about the world in a different way, [or] addressing bullying at their school. that sort of daily payoff of seeing the way that [my] music has made its way into the world. But I look at it like I’m nowhere near done. With this ‘Atlas Underground’ record, I think you can challenge the way people look at the world not just with lyrics or carrying a picket sign, but with the music you make as well. This ‘Atlas Underground’ record has artists of diverse genres, ethnicities, ages and genders, and in thee divisive times, that in and of itself is quite a statement.”
On PROPHETS OF RAGE‘s camaraderie:
Tom: “One of the reasons why we, after the ‘Make America Rage Again’ tour in 2016, continued to work together is a band [was] because we had such a great time on tour. All of us are veterans of different bands that have had various levels of drama throughout their histories, and it was great to be in a band where the focus was the music. That’s something that I, at this point in my career, really insist on. I’ve got a lot of music to make, a lot of guitar shredding to do, a lot of things to say, and I want that to be the exclusive focus.”
On shifting gears from working with a band to making a solo album:
Tom: “When you have a rock band and it’s good, it’s because of chemistry, and you create something together that you couldn’t create alone. When you make a solo album, you have a purity of vision, and on this ‘Atlas Underground’ record, I think I have the best of both worlds, because I’m the curator of this very diverse cast that I had to wrangle to make this album with a purity of vision, but on the individual tracks, you get the chemistry of working with a diverse cast to create something that’s very unique on each song… I really wanted to make a record that was a sonic conspiracy, that brought together these diverse artists with a bold ambition of creating a new genre of rock ‘n’ roll — a genre that combines my Marshall stack riff-rock, shredding, R2-D2, crazy guitar noise-making analog power with huge bass drops and some of the electronic wizardry of 2018. Basically, if my guitar-playing is the Ansel Adams clear black-and-white photograph, I wanted to create the smashed Picasso version of that — something that was very recognizable as my riffs and my sound, but you hear it in an entirely different way.”
On his forthcoming tour in support of “The Atlas Underground”:
Tom: “I had to really look at the glass as being half-full, rather than half-empty — like, ‘How do we create an experience in a room that’s going to be musically impactful even if RISE AGAINST and WU-TANG CLAN don’t show up for every single show?’ I’ve been working with Sean Evans, who’s the artistic director for Roger Waters for both ‘The Wall’ tour and the current ‘Us + Them’ tour that Roger‘s on. We’ve got 20 to 30 ideas that you’ve never seen in a rock ‘n’ roll show before in order to make this music come to life in a way that’s going to be very exciting, rocking and challenging for the audience.”
“The Atlas Underground”, Morello‘s fourth solo album (and first released under his own name), was made available in October by Mom + Pop Music.
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